Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of airliner aircraft have ceased operations around the world, and many have been temporarily relocated to the hot, dry desert – ideal conditions for aircraft storage.
But as aircraft maintenance workers have discovered, these weathers often come with unwanted – and sometimes fatal – occupants.
Australian airline Qantas revealed that engineers in charge of keeping its fleet of A380s stationed in California’s Mojave Desert had to devise a simple but effective system to protect themselves from the area’s venomous rattlesnakes.
“The region is known for its aggressive ‘rattlesnakes,’ who like to wrap themselves on hot rubber tires and aircraft wheels and brakes,” Tim Heywood, Qantas Los Angeles engineering manager, said in a statement. Published on the airline’s website.
“As part of the engineering kit, each aircraft has its own designated ‘Wheel Whacker’ (a customized broomstick) on which is written the record of each aircraft.”
Heywood said that before any inspection of the landing gear, workers first walk around the plane by stamping their feet and tapping the wheels with cables to scare away sleeping snakes.
“We also found some rattlesnakes and some scorpions, but the wheel breaker does its job and they run away,” he remarked.
Qantas reportedly parked a dozen of its A380s at an airfield in Victorville, about two hours from Los Angeles, California. One of them took off for the first time this week, after 290 days of inactivity, flying from Victorville to Los Angeles to undergo a gear swing procedure at the airport.
“These kinds of planes are highly technical and you can’t land at the depot, park and leave,” Heywood said. “It is very important that, even when in storage, the aircraft is kept to Qantas standard.”
return to operation
At the peak of the pandemic, more than two-thirds of the world’s commercial aircraft were grounded and shipped to storage facilities around the world.
Once parked, aircraft go through a process that includes draining fluid, covering the engine’s inlet and outlet, and removing external devices such as pitot tubes (used to monitor aircraft speed during flight). protection is included.
And now, many airlines are having to reverse the process. While experts say it will take at least two years for traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels, international air travel is slowly picking up as countries reopen their borders to global travelers.
And getting planes out of hibernation isn’t as easy as starting the engines and flying. in 2020, CNN Travel Spoke to several experts about the flight-to-flight process.
According to licensed B1 aeronautical engineer Steph Smith, when aircraft have been idle for a period of time, preparing them for flight again means removing a large number of voids – engine protectors – and all holes, ports or checks. Remove the covering tape.
“There’s nothing worse than having a system full of bugs, water or debris, because plane crash investigations over the years have shown that blocked static pitot systems can be disastrous,” Smith said. CNN.
Smith estimates that it takes more than 100 man-hours for a large aircraft to become airworthy after storage and about 40 man-hours for a smaller aircraft. The time it takes depends on the size of the aircraft and how long it has been stored.
“If you’ve only stored them for a short period of time, you can get them back quickly if you maintain them every two weeks to keep them seaworthy,” Smith explained.
“Considering that aircraft in long-term storage can take a long time, and if you’re talking about the A380, it’s going to be a lot of work because it’s a big plane.”
Other tasks include changing the fluid in the engine if they have been stopped, and reconnecting the battery. “So you turn everything on, reset everything, and run all the functional checks on the system,” Smith said.
(Text translated, read in original English Here)